Monday, July 2, 2012

The Patent Office the past; and a President

A U.S. Patent Office satellite location is coming to Denver. Good news for our city and our state. This is a significant economic shot in the arm for Denver and Colorado in more ways than one and will pay dividends for many years to come. It will pay major economic dividends "for basically zero taxpayer money." It was a truly collaborative effort that included bipartisan support in government, the business community, academia, and from local leaders across the state. (As I am fond of noting, when I served in the Legislature, the spirit of cooperation was usually there and many of us worked across the aisle on efforts that were good for the state.) Denver's relatively low costs for commercial real estate leases and other expenses were a key reason the city got picked. Having a patent office here will likely spur patents locally, as well as investment and the relocation of tech companies here. Officials estimate a $439 million economic impact on Colorado in the first five years a patent office is open -- and with little or no taxpayer money, since operations are funded by patent fees. Historically, the issuance of patents was one of the earliest endeavors of the federal government. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution states, "Congress shall have the Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Congress passed several patent acts during the first half century following the ratification of the Constitution. These acts include the Patent Act of 1790, the Patent Act of 1793, and the Patent Act of 1836. It is important to examine the provisions outlined by these acts, and analyze the impact of each upon American scientists of the time. The provisions outlined by this series of Congressional legislation are the foundation upon which the modern-day Patent Office is based. The modern concept of the patent had its origins in 15th century England and the original Thirteen Colonies had some form of patent law, however it was Thomas Jefferson (among others) that influenced the development of a national patent system in 1790. Though he influenced the development of the system and was an innovator and inventor in his own right, Jefferson never obtained a patent. Only one U.S. President has ever obtained a patent. Who you ask? On May 22, 1849, Abraham Lincoln received Patent No. 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals, an invention which was never manufactured. The great emancipator, savior of the Union and magnificent word-smith later said: “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius."

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